If this is your first time here – WELCOME! If not, welcome back!! As full-time RV’ers we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Off The Beaten Path series where we explore the hidden treasures in every state. We love the big popular attractions like everyone else, however, there is just something incredible about discovering something unique and different. Our goals are to find the most unique places, and take those roads less traveled. We certainly can’t explore them all, so we’d love you to share your own off the beaten path stories with us. Each series will include at least 1 epic boondocking / free camping area, with GPS coordinates.
Rhode Island is the smallest state in the US. Did you know it’s only 1,214 square miles? So when you get the title of the smallest state in the US, I think almost everything counts as small and unpopular! Check out our top picks for Rhode Island!
(Say that 5 times! Or in my case, I had a hard time saying it once!) If you have a crazy sense of humor and love the mystery side of things, this is straight out of a movie! This tiny, hidden museum, (yes, hidden) originally founded in 2006, is something in between an Automaton Theater and a Cabinet of Curiosities. Tours of the collection are arranged by appointment only – but the exact whereabouts of the museum? That remains a mystery. Ha! Located in the Historical District of Bristol, Rhode Island, Musée Patamécanique gives “tours” that encompass both outdoor and indoor environments within a 6 block area of downtown Bristol. Each tour begins at sunset as a guide greets visitors at a pre-arranged time and location in town. Weird right? But wait … it gets better! The meeting place could be anywhere from one of Bristol’s numerous public parks, to an area along the waterfront, a coffee shop, a restaurant, it always changes. After introducing himself and welcoming his guests, the “guide” equips his visitors with a set of wireless headphones and a map. This is for real!! Ha! He then presses the play button on a wireless transmitter worn by one of the guests. He then departs, leaving his visitors in a state of bewilderment. This is all part of the fun! The audio the guests are left listening to is actually a tour that leads them to the “secret” location of the indoor exhibition. The actual part of getting there and finding this tiny “cabinet” is the fun part. But, I mean when you get there, who wouldn’t want to see a machine that captures the dreams of bumble bees? Just go check it out! You’ll love it!! It’s quirky and strange! And if you’ve got kids … they are going to love the adventure in just finding this “museum”. Have fun!
The cliff walk is the first National Recreational Trail in New England and is around 3.5 miles in length. But you don’t have to do the whole thing! Many of the grand mansions are visible from the walk although to do them justice, you should certainly attend a guided tour of their interiors. QR codes, on little wooden stands, have been placed along the walk. They are easy to miss. If you use a QR reader on a smart phone, they will tell you little bits of history of the area of the cliff walk you are standing it. Usually it is about one of the big houses standing nearby.
You’ll be able to see some of these incredible mansions on your stroll down the Newport Cliffs. Some of these are open for tours, but even if you just see them from the outside, they are (as Justin calls them) “Stupid Big”. When it takes me just 12 minutes to clean my 40 foot RV (14 if I vacuum) I just can’t even imagine. But I suppose they didn’t clean their own mansion. Never the less, this is something to see! If you listed to the history from the QR codes above on the walk, you’ll hear some pretty amazing stuff!
Here you can visit the Tennis Hall of Fame if that’s your thing. But we’re more interested in the lighthouses and the crazy Cairn Beach. I wonder if the high tide ever destroys this and how often people come and rebuild the Cairns.
Sometimes a waterfall isn’t natural, but still just as beautiful and peaceful. Check out the Blackstone Dam in North Smithfield, and the Slater Mill Dam in Pawtucket. Both offer beautiful scenery and perfect for family portraits or just having lunch by the dam.
Whether you walk the area, or kayak it, make sure you visit Blackstone River. It’s the best kayaking according to the locals.
Neutaconkanut Hill Park
An 88-acre wilderness is located inside the Providence city limits. The hill was the northwest boundary of the land agreement between Roger Williams (the founder of Rhode Island) and the Narragansett Indians. At 296 feet above sea level, is the highest point in the city of Providence, giving you a breathtaking view of the downtown Providence skyline and Narragansett Bay. The area includes ravines, glacial boulders, freshwater springs, and walking trails created in the 1930’s by the WPA. You’ll love the views!
Boondocking / Free Camping
Sadly, we found our first state with no boondocking other than Cracker Barrel. So we’re reaching out to you all! Have you been to RI and found some free camping areas? It’s such a small state, our suggestion is to head to Connecticut and there are some places close to the state line. You can then just drive from those free camping areas into Rhode Island.
- Mohegan Sun (Casino) – Montville, Connecticut – GPS: 41.48553, -72.081582 – A free permit is Required at this site. Overnight parking available next to the river. As you pull into the parking lot there are signs that have a phone number on them and you tell them you are just getting there and someone comes out and takes down your info(truck, camper, length of stay, etc) and he gives you your pass.
- Foxwoods Resort and Casino – GPS 41.473345, -71.958475 – If you haven’t ever stayed in a casino parking lot – DO IT!! You’ll be surprised! Justin and I have done it a few times, and in fact, met some life long friends (Sandra and Luis from 1st Class RV Adventures) in a casino parking lot in Michigan. Sometimes you’ll even find full hookups in the casino parking lots!
So let’s hear your unique and different things to do in Rhode Island! We’d love to hear your suggestions, both on things to do, and also boondocking. There has to be a secret place out there we just haven’t found yet.
Live Simply ~ Give More ~ Expect Less
Have you read our other states featured in this series? Here are just a few you might have missed! But head on over and check them all out. Share them with friends!